AviClear Laser: The Biggest Acne Breakthrough in Years

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For many of us, waking up to a red, inflamed pimple before a big date or work presentation is enough to want to crawl back into bed and hide. But for those who suffer from moderate-to-severe acne, the mental and physical toll can be utterly devastating. The AviClear laser is changing the game. Here’s everything to know about the treatment that’s being called the biggest acne breakthrough in years.

AviClear Vs. Tretinoin and Other Acne Treatments

In recent years, dermatologists most effective treatment options for acne (after no luck with OTC protocols and mild in-office treatments) were “Accutane, which involves taking prescription drugs and can come with serious side effects, and isotretinoin, which works to control sebum production as long as you use it, but comes back when you stop,” says Boston dermatologist Jeffrey S. Dover, MD. “Tretinoin also only works for mild acne, but not moderate-to-severe acne.” However, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne is the most common skin condition in the United States. It affects up to 50 million Americans annually. And sadly, within the first year of an acne diagnosis, the risk of developing major depression is 63-percent greater.

Cutera has created an innovative solution that’s changing the game. AviClear is the first FDA-cleared energy device for the treatment of mild-to-severe acne. Dr. Dover calls it “a breakthrough technology that will revolutionize the way we treat acne.” The treatment uses a 1726-nanometer wavelength laser to shrink the sebaceous glands, which Dr. Dover says are really the cause of acne in the first place. “This means there’s less oil production and fewer blocked pores,” he explains. “Other treatments don’t target the production of sebum, but rather other causes of acne. AviClear is one of the most exciting developments in dermatology in the last 40 years.”

One question we’ve received from some of our readers is, how does AviClear compare to the Accure laser? The launch of the Accure Laser System, manufactured by Quantas System, came in 2022 after AviClear. It is also FDA-cleared and uses 1726-nanometer energy. Phoenix, AZ dermatologist Dr. Karan Lal says, “As per reports, Accure has a technology that precisely controls thermal gradient depth, which may limit side effects.”

The Technology

As a Cutera advisory board member, Dr. Dover worked with the company to develop the technology, which Cutera has been working on for the past three years. “Thirty-seven years ago, something called the free electron laser demonstrated it could selectively damage sebaceous glands without damaging the rest of the skin,” he explains. “It’s basically taken 30 years to take that and make it into a device that could be commercially available.” The laser works on all skin types and tones, from the fairest to the darkest. It also works for comedonal acne as well, which includes blackheads and whiteheads.

What Happens During an AviClear Treatment

The current protocol doctors recommend involves three 30-minute treatments, once a month. “The pimples are red after the treatment for a few minutes, but there’s no persistent redness, crusting, swelling, or blistering,” says Dr. Dover. “The pain level is a 3 out of 10, which means it hurts but it’s tolerable. There’s no anesthetic or needles.”

Exclusive AviCool sapphire skin cooling and sensory controls maintain skin’s temperature during treatment to make the experience as comfortable as possible. “When a patient comes in, we simply degrease the skin, apply a little water to improve contact, and then we sweep the area with the sapphire tip, like we would do a Fraxel treatment. We treat the entire area very slowly. AviClear is also approved for body acne on the chest and back, too,” Dr. Dover adds.

Results to Expect

Clinical data shows patients’ acne improves dramatically by three months, and even better by six months after the last of the three treatments. “This suggests there’s also a durable response,” says Dr. Dover. “It’s one of the only two treatments [Accutane being the other] with results that continue to improve even after you stop treatment. In the clinical study, 80 percent of patients saw at least half of their acne clear after three treatments. Their results also got even better after six months—it went up to 88 percent.” Additionally, any breakouts that were experienced by patients post-treatment were reported to be shorter, less intense and more infrequent.

Dr. Dover compares the results of AviClear to those of Accutane, but without the side effects. “Accutane is one of the only cures in medicine—it cures 60 percent of patients’ acne with lifelong results—but it’s linked to depression, liver inflammation, dry eyes and skin, birth defects, and more, and the government makes it almost impossible for dermatologists to prescribe it now because so many women got pregnant on it when they shouldn’t have. AviClear is the first thing to ever come close to the results of Accutane.”

AviClear Laser Reviews: What Patients Are Saying

According to Cutera’s data, 9 out of 10 patients were satisfied or very satisfied with their results. One reviewer says, “My skin has never felt clearer and looked better after my three sessions! After three failed months of [isotretinoin] and other oral and topical treatments, the AviClear laser was the solution!“ Another one: “I was routinely getting cystic acne on my chin and forehead and occasionally on my cheeks. Six months after my latest treatment of AviClear, I no longer get cystic acne on any part of my face. My skin is entirely clear.“

The AviClear Laser Cost

Dr. Dover says AviClear is not currently covered by insurance, and costs approximately $1,000 per treatment. “Three treatments are needed, but will we need maintenance treatments? We don’t know yet,” says Dr. Dover. “In clinical studies, we know it works for at least six months, which is longer than most other options, so I have a feeling we’ll see a durable response over time. And then there will be a massive movement of people coming in saying, ‘What’s this new light-based acne treatment I’m hearing about?'”

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